In Love & On Medication

The first time my boyfriend hid my nearly empty packet of Alprazolam (an anti-anxiety drug that is commonly known as Xanax, and acts as a minor tranquilizer) and my brand new packet of Sertraline (an SSRI-type anti-depressant that is commonly known as Zoloft), I wanted to kill him.

And, if I’m being honest, also myself.

It had been a bad week.

But this post isn’t about my bad week(s). It’s about a good boyfriend who wanted to replace the other me(n)dication in my life. Ha ha.

The other me(n)dication in my life. Is it funnier the second time?

I still remember some of the articles he would email me titled: “Prescription Drugs are KILLING our Generation!”, and how he would roll his eyes at me crushing half a pill before going out on our weekly date night. Other times, he would plead with me to just “try to manage without it” and remind me of how “strong” I was.

Whilst drug-dependency is a real issue, being told I’m stronger than “that” (that being the medication that enables me to function more like a human and less like a robot) is what truly makes me feel weak. Taking medication was my choice — one that I didn’t take lightly, and one that had involved a trip to a doctor, a psychiatrist, and about five visits to a therapist before I decided to swallow the first pill.

Making my own choices in life, ones that have been discussed, researched, and agonised over is how I find strength in what sometimes feels like a losing battle. It’s my way of regaining some of the control that having a mental illness can take from you.

Back to my mans. He didn’t want a white pill to be my saviour, he (maybe somewhat naively) wanted to be my saviour. Weren’t his soothing words and warm embraces enough to calm my racing heart? Wasn’t our love strong enough to stop the onset of a panic attack? Wasn’t the thought of him enough to get me out of bed in the morning?

By hoping he could be the cure to my mental illness, he took on a responsibility that was never his to take, a burden that wasn’t his to bear. Despite being wildly aware of the fact that he could never replace my medication, we often slipped into the roles of a patient desperate for a fix-it-all cure and a doctor desperate to please. Without meaning to, I sometimes found myself relying on him for my daily dose of happiness. Yes, your relationship and partner should make you happy but neither should ever be your only source to feeling somewhat good about yourself. Your happiness is ultimately, YOUR responsibility — as is your recovery.

It’s true that sometimes his love was enough, and his smile did get me through many bad days brought on by depression. However, most of the time, it wasn’t enough. It wasn’t enough because despite his unwavering support and my somewhat-wavering determination to get better, your brain doesn’t always play nice.

There are hormones, chemicals, various imbalances and deficiencies, buried childhood traumas, and so many other factors at play that can cause or have a major impact on our mental health — and without professional or medicinal intervention, those factors can be extremely difficult to address and resolve.

Sometimes our (and others) best efforts just aren’t enough, and that’s okay. If you can’t wish away the common cold, how could you expect to do the same with a serious mental illness? However, whilst love doesn’t always save the day, having a supportive network around you (including a ride-or-die partner who hasn’t run away after your 100th breakdown that week) can make you feel better about yourself more than any medication ever could.

If you are in need of professional help, see below:

If you are in the US — click here.

If you are in Ireland or the UK — click here.

For elsewhere in the world — here!